Centralisation criticised

The leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council has hit out at fire chiefs for confirming the region’s control room closure and delivering news that vehicle maintenance will be taken away from the area.

Ronnie Nicholson held a meeting with Pat Watters, chair of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and Alasdair Hay, Chief Fire Officer, last week where he was told the closure would go ahead on 17 November with the loss of 16 jobs.

It was also confirmed that the vehicle maintenance for fire service vehicles in the region is no longer being carried out by Dumfries and Galloway council, but has been transferred to Cumbernauld instead.

Councillor Nicholson said: “Last year, I had a meeting with the Chief Fire Officer and the chair of the Fire Board. At this meeting, I made it very clear that the council wished to be engaged and consulted on any proposal related to the closure of the local fire service control room. This was agreed by everyone at that meeting.

“However, Pat Watters and Alasdair Hay have now made clear that they have no intention of consulting with the council on the issue and the closure of the control room will go ahead with no discussion.

“We also now have the situation that fire service vehicles in the region will no longer be maintained in Dumfries.

“That’s not only a loss of business for local staff but we will now have the ridiculous situation that vehicles will have to go on a 200 mile round trip to Cumbernauld to be serviced.

“Fire service emplyees are being badly let down by their chiefs nationally who are intent on centralising as many jobs as possible.

“A national Fire and Rescue Service should mean that support jobs are shared across Scotland but that isn’t happening.

The fire board said earlier this year that selling five of its eight buildings that currently house control rooms would raise £18m, with annual operating cost savings of a further £4.7m and agreed to the closures by a vote of nine to three.